Parenthood is an incredible journey, but it can also be filled with challenges and questions. Particularly in the early years, it can feel isolating, new and overwhelming. Finding the right resources to expand “your village” is essential.
In this blog post, we’ll share some of the best free Santa Cruz parenting resources, particularly for families with young children, to help navigate the complexities of raising children.
1. Facebook Groups
Let’s start with my favorite and robust resource for parents in Santa Cruz County. If you haven’t already joined the many local “mom” or “parenting” Facebook groups, pick a few and join! I promise you, you will find some helpful information. While the conversations can get a little overwhelming at times, I haven’t found a more valuable place to get my parental questions answered within minutes than by these mom groups. Vent, ask for advice and recommendations, or offer support.
There are groups tailored to many different niches of parenthood like Single Moms of Santa Cruz or Santa Cruz Parents of Sensitive Kids. Or location specific groups like Scotts Valley Moms. There’s also more general groups like Santa Cruz Moms. And if you’re looking to find reusable kid/household items instead of buying new – or you want to donate your no longer needed items – I suggest joining one of the “free” groups like Free in Santa Cruz or The Great Share Collective.
Pro Tip: Once you’re in a group, instead of creating a whole new post to seek advice or recommendations, you can search your topic in all previous conversations within the group using the search feature. For example, if you want recommendations for a book about starting kindergarten, go to the search bar and enter “best children’s books for starting kindergarten”. You can read through the information the group members have already posted instead of waiting for people to reply to a new post. These groups are a wealth of information!
2. The Circle Family Center
The Circle Family Center is a non-profit offering groups, classes, workshops to support new and expecting families in Santa Cruz. If you’re looking for a way to socialize with your baby, check out their schedule of classes. You can purchase a membership or pay a drop in fee. They also have a sliding scale, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to participate but can’t afford the costs. They also offer fun family events for free throughout the year.
3. Fit4Moms and Walk Collectives
Looking for a way to meet new moms in a similar phase of life? Maybe get some exercise while you’re at it? FIT4MOMs is a leading prenatal and postnatal fitness program that allows you to workout with your child, and alongside other moms. They also host free family meetups.
The Mom Walk Collective cultivates in person and online social gatherings to help mothers find their village. We have two local groups @themomwalkco.capitolaca and @themomwalkco.santacruz who host free walking meetups each month. You can join with or without your child. This is a great way to get outside and socialize during those isolating times with young kids at home.
4. Santa Cruz Magazines
Stay in the loop with the Santa Cruz Parent Magazine and Growing Up in Santa Cruz. These publications include local event calendars, articles, blogs, guides, directories and other resources for parents and families.
5. Positive Discipline Parent Community.
Positive Discipline Parent Community is a parent education nonprofit serving Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. They are dedicated to bringing the international Positive Discipline (PD) movement to Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. They have group classes, free workshops and downloadable tip sheets to teach parents how to embrace the core principles of PD including mutual respect, dignity, and guiding children with firmness and kindness at the same time. Check out their class schedule to find the right fit for your family needs.
6. First 5 Santa Cruz County
First 5 Santa Cruz County focuses on early childhood development and provides support for families with young children. They offer parenting classes, family support, and resources for early learning. For parents with little ones, this organization can be a lifeline.
7. Santa Cruz Public Libraries
Local libraries are often overlooked gems for parents. Santa Cruz Public Libraries offer a range of programs for children, including reading clubs, children’s activities, and resources for parents to foster a love for reading and learning with their child. Bonus! Most Santa Cruz County libraries were recently renovated offering updated facilities, revamped children’s area and new technology. Some locations received full remodels such as the Capitola Library and Aptos (opening this fall!)
What are your favorite parenting local parenting resources?